The Ashes has been the most traditional and the loved rivalry in international cricket. The Australians and the English battle it out for their ultimate glory in test cricket – Winning the Ashes. For these two highly competitive sides, it surely doesn’t get any bigger or better than this. The most exhilarating aspect about this competition is that there is not even a single moment of boredom. In any condition or situation, either of the sides can spring a remarkable comeback and outperform the other side.
The crowd too gets into the act and makes this contest far more interesting. With the Ashes 2015, barely ten days away, there is enough anxiety around to promise a thrilling summer.
In this article, we have a look at the top 6 Ashes Test matches since 2005. We consider 6 test matches in order to ensure that atleast one test is selected from each series. Ignoring any series would surely be unfair.
1. 2005- 2nd Test – Edgbaston, Birmingham
Without second thoughts, this has to be the best Ashes test in the history of the urn. The Australians went into the second test with a 1-0 lead over England. The first test was easily won by Australia at Lord’s, courtesy of Glenn McGrath’s heroics. The Aussies began the second test on a catastrophic note. Minutes before the toss, Glenn McGrath was ruled out as he injured himself in a warmup game. Let did the visitors know, that this would be a serious blow.
On an overcast day, Ricky Ponting invited England to bat first, and the England openers responded in style. Strauss and Trescothick put together 112 for the first wicket. A collapse meant that the Australians crawled their way back into the game. However, a brilliant counterattack from Flintoff and Pietersen negated the advantage handed over to Australia. Flintoff’s 68 off 62 was a sensational knock. The England innings got over on 407, in less than 80 overs.
Some fine swing bowling from Mathew Hoggard and the accuracy from Flintoff was too good for the Australians. The Aussies were rolled over for 308 in the first innings as Flintoff and Giles shared three wickets apiece. England’s second innings began on a horrendous note when they were 31-4. Once again, it was Flintoff, who rescued the hosts with his counterattack. His knock of 73 proved to be the difference. The Australians were handed a target of 282.
In the bowling as well, it was Flintoff who raked havoc. The Australians were 175-8, and it seemed to be a mere formality for England. But then Warne and Lee staged a fine partnership for the ninth wicket. With 62 still needed for the last wicket, Warne didn’t lose hope. Just 3 runs were needed when Steve Harmison bowled a killer bouncer to Kasprowicz. Kasprowicz tried to fend the ball away, but only handed Jones an easy catch. The English were simply ecstatic, while the Aussies rued their luck.
2. 2006/07 – 2nd Test – Adelaide
“Ashes to Crashes” read the newspaper headlines post this game. England, after losing the first test, decided to bat first at the Adelaide Oval. Paul Collingwood and Kevin Pietersen together staged a fabulous partnership of 310 runs as the Australians just toiled along. England, riding on Collingwood’s 206 and Pietersen’s 158 declared on 551. In reply, the Aussies lead their onslaught as Ponting and Clarke notched up fine tons. The lower middle order supported Clarke very well. A seven wicket haul from Hoggard wasn’t good enough from stopping Australia to get to 513.
The Australians, determined to turn the game around on its head led a spirited bowling display. Shane Warne was lethal at Adelaide as he spun the ball viciously. Strauss top scored with 34, as England was bowled out for just 129. The last day was supposed to be a formality for a draw, but the Australians turned it into a victory out of nowhere! Needing 168 in less than 40 overs, the Australian lost 4 wickets when they reached the target. It was a game that had everything in it. This game demoralized England to such an extent that they couldn’t regain their confidence in the series.
3. 2009 – 5th Test – The Oval
Even a draw for Australia would have meant that they would have retained the Ashes. The series was squared 1-1 when this test began. England needed to win the game at any cost in order to regain the urn. England got to a decent first innings score of 332 as Ian Bell scored 72. Riding on some sheer brilliance from Broad, who took a five for, the Australians were bowled out for just 160. England in the second innings were led by debutant Jonathan Trott, who made a brilliant ton when the chips were down.
Chasing 546, the Australians began positively. But then came Graeme Swann, and his off spin was just too good for the Aussies on a wearing Oval wicket. Mike Hussey resisted with a ton, by Swann had the last laugh as the visitors were dismissed for 348. It was a sensational game, as England led by its bowlers regained the urn.
4. 2010/11 – 1st Test – Gabba, Brisbane:
The Ashes of 2010/11 began in some style. England, batting first could only manage 260 as Peter Siddle took a hattrick on the first day. Cook looked good for his innings of 67. The Australians, charged up by Hussey and Haddin got to 481 as both made fine tons. Hussey was unfortunate as he missed out on a double ton by just 5 runs. What followed in England’s second innings was simply out of the world.
Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook began in style with a partnership of 188. Strauss was dismissed for 110 by part timer Marcus North. Along with Trott, Cook simply thwarted any attempt of an Aussie comeback. Cook, played a stellar knock and wasn’t troubled one bit. He played with controlled aggression and annihilated the Australian bowlers as he made 235*. Trott remained not out on 135, as England’s final score read 517-1. The knocks played by England’s top 3 simply demolished the hopes of every Australian player for the Ashes. The game ended in a draw, but it was nothing short of a moral boosting win for England. England went on to win the away series 3-1.
5. 2013 – 1st Test – Trent Bridge, Nottingham
The Australians were always the underdogs for this series. On the very first day of the series, 14 wickets fell, as England; batting first was dismissed for 215. The Australians at one stage were 117-9. But then Phillip Hughes and no. 11 Ashton Agar staged a brilliant recovery. The duo added 163 for the last wicket, as Agar was unfortunately dismissed for 98. England though, looked settled in the second innings and led by a classy ton from Ian Bell, gave Australia a target of 311. During England’s second innings Stuart Broad was clearly out as he nicked a ball from Agar to slip. But the Aussies didn’t have a review left, and Broad didn’t walk. That sparked a massive furor as the umpire too stood still.
The Australians began steadily but Swann punctured the middle order. With still 80 needed with just one wicket in hand, Haddin almost staged a miracle. Along with Pattinson, Haddin stitched a partnership of 65. Haddin was given out caught behind controversially as England won by 14 runs. James Anderson single handedly won the game for England and was named the Man of the Match.
6. 2013/14 – 1st Test – Gabba, Brisbane
This Ashes was followed from the previous one, barely three months later. The Australians batted first, but were rocked early big time by Stuart Broad. The hosts were 132-6 when Mitchell Johnson joined Brad Haddin. It was at this very ground three years ago that Johnson was bullied by the Barmy Army. Little did they know, that life was about to come a full circle for Johnson. Johnson and Haddin put together 114, and Australia was eventually dismissed for 295.
England looked good at 81-2, before Harris and Johnson piled misery for them. Johnson displayed an avatar of him which was never seen before. Bowling in excess of 150 km/hr, Johnson looked like a devil. The English batsmen meekly surrendered as they were bowled out for just 136. Tons from Warner and Clarke in the second innings meant that Australia declared on 401, this giving England the target of 561.
Johnson once again went through the England batting line up with a five for. The English batsmen had no answer to the might of Mitchell. They were bundled out for 179, as Johnson took a five for. This was just the beginning of Mitchell Johnson’s terror as the Aussies once again whitewashed England.